This article was originally published in Issue 3 of Ski+board 2016/17, read it in full here.
Ski+board writer Arnie Wilson tries out heliskiing in Italy.
The helicopter rotor blades are whirring, adrenalin is surging and we’re flying to a landing spot at 4,250m (13,944ft) for a heliskiing adventure. The Bugaboos or Cariboos in Canada? Think again - at this altitude it has to be Europe. We land high on a shoulder of Monte Rosa, the second highest mountain in the Alps, straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland. The Eurocopter clatters away, and as we gaze across an indescribably beautiful and breathtaking snowscape, the silence is almost palpable.
Our band of skiers is enjoying an off-piste excursion in the Monte Rosa-Zermatt area, led by Ski Weekend’s Gavin Foster with guide Seppi Enzio. We’d started in the Italian resort of Alagna where the helicopter flew us to the Col de Lys, just 384m from the summit of Monte Rosa. After some seemingly endless and exhilaratingly deep powder fields, we find ourselves traversing along the edge of the spectacular Grenz glacier between the peaks of Monte Rosa and Lyskamm along to the Gorner gletscher. I’d looked down on it so many times from Zermatt’s Gornergrat, but to be alongside and skiing what Foster describes as one of the best circuits in the ski world is utterly awe-inspiring. As we skirt the Gorner glacier, en route to Furi, above Zermatt, and the Theodul Pass which links Zermatt with Cervinia, it’s reassuring to have a little help from what Foster described as a “Tarzan death slide cable” – a rope to hang onto along the tricky bits at the edge of the glacier. From here we continue – hardly setting ski on a single piste all day - back to Alagna via the Theodul to Cima Bianca (Cervinia) St Jacques, Val d’Ayas, Champoluc and Gressoney. We’d skied an amazing thigh-burning 75 miles - all in one day!